Hi Everyone! We want you all to know that when we are writing our posts and creating our content, we often include affiliate links where we earn with qualifying purchases. Now keep reading for the good stuff!
taser vs stun gun how does a taser work display

Taser vs Stun Gun

Stun Gun:

A stun gun requires direct contact with the target to deliver an electric shock. There will typically be two electrodes at the tip of the gun that must be pressed against the body to complete the circuit and deliver a shock. A stun gun is a form of pain compliance and will not cause the individual to lose control of their body functions, also known as being incapacitated.


A Taser is the advanced version of the stun gun and can deliver a shock through direct contact and by firing two barbed electrodes connected to wires that are propelled towards the target. Unlike the stun gun, the taser has the capability of incapacitating an individual, rendering them unable to fight back or run away. When the taser is deployed, it will release two barbed electrodes designed to penetrate skin and clothing and have outward hooks (think Fishhook) to help keep it in place. The “Sticky Effect” is when the oils, sweat and moisture enhances the connection to the electrical connection, making the tasers incapacitation effects more powerful, limiting the individuals ability to move and remove the probes.

In general, tasers can be deployed from a range up to 25 feet. Many tasers are equipped with two cartridges, meaning if you miss the first one or only partially hit, you can immediately deploy the second cartridge. If only one probe hits the intended target, the circuit will not be complete, thus leaving the taser ineffective. There are two ways to correct this issue, one is to shoot another probe and make contact and the second is to use the drive stun function (taser pressed against the individual) and that will complete the circuit. Baggy clothing may also prevent the probe from contacting the individuals skin making the taser ineffective.

taser vs stun gun how does a taser work barb side view
Taser with Double Cartridge

How does the voltage of the taser affect our bodies?

The high Voltage of the taser is used to overcome our body’s natural resistance to electrical current and will disrupt our nervous system. This disruption will cause temporary incapacitation of your body, interfering with the normal communication between your brain and muscles. As a result, your muscles will go through a series of contractions, losing your ability to control or use those effected muscles. The larger the spread in the taser barbed electrodes, the more muscles will be affected resulting in less control of your body. When using the stun drive function of the taser (pressing the taser directly to the skin), there will be no involuntary contractions as the spread of the prongs will not be far enough and will be more of a pain compliance. This is why deploying the taser is significant more effective then the stun drive is.

How Much Electricity do Tasers release?

Voltage on most tasers will typically range from 50,000 to 120,000 volts. Although High-voltage electrical pulses sounds scary, voltage isn’t the usual culprit of causing deaths. Current also know as amperage (Amps) are the real cause for concern.  Tasers will produce low currant, high voltage pulses to help minimize the risk of causing serious injury or death to the intended target.

Can a Taser Kill You?

Tasers are generally considered to be non-lethal, however they can cause death and serious body injury in certain unlikely circumstances such as the following:

  • Individuals with underlying health conditions such as a heart condition have a higher risk of death. Tasers have been associated with cardiac effects such as arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms).
  • Improper use of tasers may cause undue injury of death or injury.
  • The user repeatedly uses the taser it can cause permanent damage.
  • Target strikes their head or falls from a height
  • Target falls into a pool or body of water
  • If the individual has a flammable substance on or near them that catches fire.

Watch: Suspect Catches on Fire, Ignited by Officers Taser

Owning a taser

Each state will have different regulations on owning a taser and any restrictions. Some states consider tasers a firearm requiring a license to carry, while others have just an age restriction. With the advancements of tasers, they are reasonably safe with the majority of law enforcement agencies carrying and utilizing tasers in the field.

How useful is the Taser in Law Enforcement

The taser is one of the most effective tools an officer can use while patrolling the streets. The other less then lethal options we have such as the baton and pepper spray just does not have the same impact as the taser. Officers have the option of “Arching” the taser which is essentially using the drive stun option while holding the taser in the air. The sound of electricity is actually quite loud, with many individuals deciding to quickly comply. When deploying the taser, if used effectively, it eliminates the individuals ability to move, making the engagement quite safe for the officers on scene. It is recommended that officers begin handcuffing the offender during the five (5) seconds the taser is still pulsing. It is important to note that the officers will only get shocked by the electricity if they touch in between where the prongs landed on the suspect. For example, if an individual is shot between the upper back and lower back, the officers will be able to grab their arms, legs, hands or feet. If they do however end up touching in between the prongs they will not become incapacitated like the suspect, but will receive a powerful shock. The officer will “Self correct” as it would be a quick shock that they can instantly pull back from.


taser vs stun gun how does a taser work arc
Taser Arc

What does it feel like to be tased?

From my personal experience I will take you on the ride of my life. Although it is not required, many law enforcement officers elect to “take the ride” when they are going through the trainings. First we watched several videos warning us of the dangers and watching others being tased. They had us sign a waiver and then set me up in between two other officers who held underneath my armpits in preparation of what was to come. The horrid words of “taser taser taser” were said and then the instructor fired away with a loud bang followed by electric pulses. One probe hit my upper back while the other one hit my jeans just between the back of my knees. Somehow the probe didn’t fully make it through the back of my jeans. I remember hearing the sound of the taser cycling, which sounds like pure electric terror. Of course I thought I was superhuman because I was thinking, this is nothing.

As I begin to turn around to tell the instructor that wasn’t so bad, I hear those dreaded words again “taser taser taser” and to my dismay, I heard another bang and this time I wasn’t feeling so invincible. My muscles immediately contracted and I was completely unable to move or scream more than a painful moan. They began to lay me down on my stomach and those five (5) seconds had to have been the longest seconds of my life. I swear I could count each millisecond as I was frozen in what I could only consider purgatory. I couldn’t’ move, I couldn’t speak and the pain was overwhelming. Once the Five (5) seconds were done, my muscles quickly released and I just laid there in relief, contemplating why I volunteered for this. There were three probes still in my back and to my surprise, ripping them out was, well painless. The tissue around the probes were completely burnt and they used a special tool to “rip” them out. I was surprised of how exhausted I was as I stood up, my muscles felt as though I just completed a six (6) month navy seal training.

Overall do I regret doing it? No.

Will I ever do it again? Absolutely not.


Have you been tased? Tell us in the comments!

taser vs stun gun how does a taser work barb
Taser Barbs

Citizens Police Academy Latest

Subscribe to Our Crime Newsletter

By Branden

Branden is a Police Lieutenant who has investigated numerous crimes. He has written and executed multiple search warrants, conducted various protective sweeps, pat frisks and exit orders. He has been involved in numerous police vehicle chases, fights, disturbances, foot pursuits, suspect/hostage negotiations and felony stops. He is trained with an assortment of weapons. He has spoken with countless victims, witnesses and suspects and is using his experience to better protect our communities and loved ones by sharing his knowledge through his writings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *